Literary Journeys: 10 Holiday Destinations Inspired by Famous Novels

K.C. Dermody

Written by Justin Mewse

October 2023

Enjoy a literary adventure like no other! In the pages of many of our best-loved novels, we often find ourselves transported to far-off lands, immersed in the vivid descriptions of authors who have captured the essence of some of the world’s most enchanting places. Indeed, these places are not just products of an author’s imagination; they are real destinations waiting to be explored.

In this curated list, we invite you to embark on a journey that intertwines the magic of literature with the thrill of travel. We’ve meticulously matched famous novels with their corresponding travel destinations, creating a fusion of fiction and reality that will ignite your wanderlust and inspire your next adventure. From the cobblestone streets of Paris, echoing with the enigma of “The Da Vinci Code,” to the misty mountains of Machu Picchu, as chronicled in “The Lost City of the Incas,” each destination has a story to tell, both in the realm of fiction and the tangible world.

Whether you’re a bookworm seeking to live out your favourite novel or a travel enthusiast eager to explore the world’s literary connections, this list promises a voyage of discovery and wonder. So, pack your bags, bring along your favourite paperback (or Kindle), and get ready to traverse continents and centuries.

Aerial view, Serengeti, Kenya

Paris, France: “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown

Explore the iconic landmarks of Paris, such as the Louvre Museum and Notre-Dame Cathedral, just like Robert Langdon did in this thrilling mystery novel. Here’s a list of some of the best places to see in Paris:


  • Eiffel Tower: No visit to Paris is complete without seeing the iconic Eiffel Tower. You can take an elevator or climb the stairs to the top for panoramic views of the city
  • Louvre Museum: Home to thousands of artworks, including the famous Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. It’s one of the world’s largest and most visited museums
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral: A masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, Notre-Dame Cathedral is known for its stunning stained glass windows and gargoyles
  • Montmartre: This historic neighbourhood is known for its artistic heritage. Visit the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur for breathtaking views of the city and explore the charming streets filled with artists and cafes
  • Musée d’Orsay: Housed in a former railway station, this museum showcases an extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces by artists like Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas
  • Sainte-Chapelle: Known for its stunning stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes, Sainte-Chapelle is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture
  • Luxembourg Gardens: A peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, these gardens offer a serene atmosphere with fountains, statues, and beautiful green spaces
  • Père Lachaise Cemetery: One of the world’s most visited cemeteries, it is the final resting place of many famous figures, including Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf, and Jim Morrison
  • Musée de l’Orangerie: Located in the Tuileries Gardens, this museum houses Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series, among other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works
  • Shakespeare and Company: A legendary English-language bookstore, it has been a meeting place for famous writers such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce
Notre Dame - Paris Tourist Office/Sarah Sergent

Amalfi Coast, Italy: “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes

Experience the picturesque beauty of the Amalfi Coast, immersing yourself in the same stunning landscapes and charming villages that are described in this memoir. Here are some of the best places to see and explore here:


  • Amalfi: The namesake of the coast, Amalfi is a charming town with colourful buildings, a historic cathedral (Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea), and scenic beaches. Explore its narrow streets and enjoy local seafood delicacies
  • Positano: Known for its pastel-coloured buildings tumbling down the cliffside, Positano is one of the most photogenic villages on the Amalfi Coast. Relax on its beautiful beaches, shop in stylish boutiques, and savour Italian cuisine in seaside restaurants
  • Ravello: Perched high above the sea, Ravello offers breathtaking views of the coastline. Visit Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, two historic villas with stunning gardens, and attend classical music concerts during the annual Ravello Festival
  • Atrani: Atrani is one of the smallest and most picturesque towns on the coast. Its charming atmosphere, narrow alleys, and beautiful beach make it a delightful destination for a relaxing day trip
  • Furore: Known for its dramatic fjord, Furore is a hidden gem on the Amalfi Coast. The Furore Fjord (Fiordo di Furore) offers a unique setting for swimming, diving, and enjoying the natural beauty of the coastline
  • Praiano: A quieter alternative to the bustling towns of Amalfi and Positano, Praiano offers stunning views, a peaceful atmosphere, and the beautiful beach of Marina di Praia. Don’t miss the picturesque San Gennaro Church
Positano coast view

Edinburgh, Scotland: “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

Step into the historic streets of Edinburgh, as featured in Diana Gabaldon’s beloved series – since crossing over to the TV as a show with Prime Video. From ancient castles to vibrant festivals, the city offers a wide range of attractions for visitors. Here are some of the best places to see in Edinburgh:


  • Edinburgh Castle: Dominating the city’s skyline, Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that offers panoramic views of the city. Explore its various buildings, including the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny
  • The Royal Mile: This iconic street runs through the heart of the Old Town and is lined with historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and pubs. It connects Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • Arthur’s Seat: An ancient volcano and the main peak in the group of hills in Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat offers hiking trails and breathtaking views of the city. It’s a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts
  • Calton Hill: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calton Hill offers stunning vistas of the city, including the castle and Arthur’s Seat. It’s a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset
  • Scottish National Gallery: Located in a neoclassical building in the city centre, the gallery houses an impressive collection of European paintings, including works by Van Gogh, Monet, and Titian
  • The Real Mary King’s Close: Explore the underground streets and spaces beneath the Royal Mile, offering a glimpse into Edinburgh’s history from the 17th century. Guided tours provide fascinating insights into the city’s past
  • Greyfriars Kirkyard: This ancient cemetery is famous for its connection to the loyal dog, Greyfriars Bobby. The gravestones and monuments here have historical significance, and the kirkyard exudes a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere
  • The Scotch Whisky Experience: Learn about Scotland’s national drink, whisky, in this interactive museum. Take a guided tour and participate in whisky tasting sessions to discover the nuances of Scotch whisky


Edinburgh city view

Machu Picchu, Peru: “The Lost City of the Incas” by Hiram Bingham

Embark on a journey to Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan citadel in Peru, inspired by Hiram Bingham’s exploration and his book detailing the discovery of this archaeological marvel. Here are the best places to see in Machu Picchu and along the Inca Trail:


  • Machu Picchu Citadel: Explore the main archaeological site, including the Intihuatana Stone (considered a ritual stone associated with the astronomic clock or calendar), the Temple of the Sun, the Room of the Three Windows, and the agricultural terraces. Witness the stunning architecture and learn about the Inca civilisation from knowledgeable guides
  • Huayna Picchu: If you’re a hiking enthusiast, consider climbing Huayna Picchu, the iconic mountain in the backdrop of most Machu Picchu photos. Note that there are limited daily permits, so it’s essential to book in advance. The hike offers panoramic views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains
  • Machu Picchu Mountain: Alternatively, you can hike Machu Picchu Mountain, which provides higher vantage points and stunning views of the entire archaeological site. Like Huayna Picchu, permits are limited, so plan ahead
  • Sun Gate (Inti Punku): If you’ve trekked the Inca Trail, your journey culminates at the Sun Gate, which offers the first panoramic view of Machu Picchu. It’s a rewarding experience after several days of trekking
  • Inca Bridge: A natural bridge made of wooden logs and stones, the Inca Bridge is a fascinating archaeological site. It was likely a secret entrance to Machu Picchu and offers a unique perspective on ancient Inca engineering
  • The Caretaker’s Hut (Guardhouse): Located at the highest point of Machu Picchu, this structure offers stunning panoramic views of the citadel. It’s an excellent spot for photography
  • Dead Woman’s Pass (Warmiwañusqa): The highest point on the Inca Trail at approximately 13,829 feet (4,215 meters). It offers challenging yet rewarding trekking and breathtaking views
  • Phuyupatamarca: Known as the “Town Above the Clouds,” this site features Inca baths, temples, and agricultural terraces. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Inca urban planning
  • Wiñay Wayna: Often considered the most beautiful archaeological site on the Inca Trail, Wiñay Wayna features terraces, fountains, and religious shrines. It’s a magical place to explore before reaching Machu Picchu.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, Peru

Key West, Florida, USA: “To Have and Have Not” by Ernest Hemingway

Discover the vibrant culture of Key West, in the Florida Keys, which was once home to Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway’s novel captures the essence of this unique Florida island. Here are some of the best places to see in vibrant and eclectic Key West:


  • Duval Street: The heart of Key West’s entertainment district, Duval Street is lined with colourful buildings, restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll and to experience the city’s lively atmosphere
  • Mallory Square: Known for its nightly Sunset Celebration, Mallory Square offers stunning views of the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Street performers, artists, and vendors gather here, creating a festive ambiance
  • Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum: Visit the former residence of the famous writer Ernest Hemingway. The house is filled with his personal belongings, and it’s also home to numerous polydactyl (six-toed) cats, descendants of Hemingway’s original pets
  • Southernmost Point: Located at the southernmost tip of the continental United States, this large buoy marks the southernmost point and is a popular photo spot for visitors
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park: Explore this historic fort, which played a significant role in the Civil War. The park also features a beautiful beach, nature trails, and excellent opportunities for snorkelling and birdwatching
  • Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory: Walk through a tropical paradise filled with thousands of butterflies. This conservatory is a serene and enchanting place to learn about these beautiful insects and their habitats
  • Harry S. Truman Little White House: This historic house was once used as a winter White House by President Harry S. Truman. Guided tours provide insights into the life and times of the president
  • Higgs Beach: Relax on the sandy shores of Higgs Beach, which also features a pier, volleyball courts, and water sports rentals. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy the sunhine
  • Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden: Explore a lush, tropical garden filled with exotic plants, parrots, and other birds. This hidden gem offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling streets of Key West
Pelican in Islamorada, Florida Keys

Kyoto, Japan: “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden

Immerse yourself in the world of geishas in Kyoto, Japan experiencing the same historic streets and tea houses depicted in Arthur Golden’s bestselling novel. Here are some of the best places to see in picturesque Kyoto:


  • Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion): One of Kyoto’s most iconic landmarks, Kinkaku-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple covered in gold leaf. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and a reflective pond, it’s a sight to behold
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha: Famous for its thousands of vibrant red torii gates, Fushimi Inari Taisha is an important Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice and agriculture. The path lined with torii gates leads to the sacred Mount Inari
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: Walk through the enchanting bamboo forest in the Arashiyama district. The towering bamboo stalks create a surreal and peaceful atmosphere, especially early in the morning or late in the afternoon
  • Kiyomizu-dera: Perched on a hillside, Kiyomizu-dera offers panoramic views of Kyoto. The temple is famous for its wooden stage that juts out over the hillside and its beautiful cherry blossoms in spring and colorful foliage in autumn
  • Gion District: Known as Kyoto’s traditional entertainment district, Gion is famous for its preserved wooden machiya houses, tea houses, and geisha culture. It’s a great place to explore, especially in the evening when you might spot geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) on their way to appointments
  • Nijo Castle: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nijo Castle was the residence of the Tokugawa shoguns. The castle complex includes beautiful gardens, ornate interiors, and the “nightingale floors” that chirp when walked upon to alert against intruders
  • Ryoan-ji: Known for its Zen rock garden, Ryoan-ji is a meditative and minimalist temple. The arrangement of 15 rocks on raked gravel is a masterpiece of Japanese garden design
Japan Park during Blossom

Nairobi, Kenya: “Out of Africa” by Isak Dinesen

Explore the African savannah and visit Nairobi, Kenya, which was once part of British East Africa. Isak Dinesen’s memoir captures her life on a coffee plantation in this region. Here are just a few of our favourite wildlife areas for you to explore:


  • Masai Mara National Reserve: One of Africa’s most famous safari destinations, Masai Mara is renowned for its abundant wildlife, including the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros). It’s also the site of the Great Migration, where millions of wildebeest, zebras, and other animals move between Kenya and Tanzania
  • Amboseli National Park: Known for its large herds of elephants and stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli offers excellent opportunities for wildlife photography
  • Samburu National Reserve: Home to unique wildlife species such as the Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and Somali ostrich, Samburu National Reserve provides a distinctive safari experience
  • Tsavo National Parks (East and West): Tsavo is one of the largest national parks in Kenya, offering diverse landscapes, including savannahs, hills, and volcanic cones. It’s a great place to see wildlife, including lions, elephants, and hippos
  • Nairobi National Park: Located just outside the capital city, Nairobi National Park allows visitors to see a variety of animals, including lions, rhinos, and giraffes, with the Nairobi skyline in the background
  • Lake Nakuru National Park: Famous for its flamingos, Lake Nakuru National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The park also hosts rhinos, giraffes, and various other wildlife species
  • Mount Kenya National Park: Home to the second-highest peak in Africa, Mount Kenya offers excellent trekking and climbing opportunities. The park is also rich in biodiversity and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Ol Pejeta Conservancy: A leading wildlife conservation area, Ol Pejeta is home to a variety of animals, including the last two remaining northern white rhinos. Visitors can enjoy game drives and learn about conservation efforts
Rhino on by Lake Nakuru, Kenya

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA: “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams

Dive into the lively atmosphere of New Orleans, experiencing the same vibrant energy and Southern charm depicted in Tennessee Williams’ famous play. Here are some of the best places to see in culturely-rich New Orleans:


  • French Quarter: The heart of New Orleans, the French Quarter is famous for its historic architecture, lively atmosphere, and colourful buildings. Bourbon Street, in particular, is known for its vibrant nightlife
  • Jackson Square: A historic park in the French Quarter surrounded by important landmarks, including St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo, and the Presbytère. It’s a hub of art, music, and local culture
  • Garden District: Known for its beautiful mansions, oak-lined streets, and unique boutiques, the Garden District is a picturesque neighbourhood perfect for a leisurely stroll
  • Café du Monde: A New Orleans institution, Café du Monde is famous for its beignets and café au lait. It’s a must-visit for a taste of local flavours
  • Frenchmen Street: Often considered the local’s version of Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street is renowned for its live music venues, jazz clubs, and eclectic bars. It offers a more authentic and intimate musical experience
  • St. Louis Cemetery No. 1: One of the most famous above-ground cemeteries in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is known for its elaborate tombs and historical significance
  • New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA): Located in City Park, NOMA features an impressive collection of fine art, including works from French and American artists, as well as a beautiful sculpture garden
  • Steamboat Natchez Cruise: Enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Mississippi River aboard the Steamboat Natchez. It offers stunning views of the city skyline, live jazz music, and a chance to learn about the history of the river
  • Streetcar Ride: Take a ride on one of New Orleans’ iconic streetcars, such as the St. Charles Avenue line. It’s a great way to see the city and experience its unique charm
  • Bayou Swamp Tours: Explore the picturesque Louisiana swamps and bayous on a guided boat tour. It’s an opportunity to see wildlife, cypress trees, and learn about the unique ecosystem of the region
Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana

Cairo, Egypt: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

Travel to the ancient city of Cairo, where the protagonist Santiago begins his journey in Paulo Coelho’s philosophical novel about destiny and personal legend. Here are some of our recommendations for places to see in this historical city:


  • Giza Pyramids and Sphinx: The Great Pyramid of Giza, Pyramid of Khafre, Pyramid of Menkaure, and the iconic Sphinx are among the most famous ancient monuments in the world. They are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a must-visit when in Cairo
  • Egyptian Museum: Located in Tahrir Square, the Egyptian Museum houses an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including the treasures of Tutankhamun. It’s a treasure trove for history enthusiasts
  • Al-Azhar Park: A beautifully landscaped park in the heart of Islamic Cairo, Al-Azhar Park offers a peaceful retreat and stunning views of the Citadel and the old city
  • Old Cairo Gates: Visit Bab Zuweila and Bab al-Futuh, ancient gates that were once part of the city’s fortifications. Climbing to the top offers panoramic views of the surrounding area
  • Museum of Islamic Art: This museum houses a vast collection of Islamic art and artifacts, including textiles, ceramics, manuscripts, and architectural pieces, spanning over 1,400 years of Islamic history
  • Al-Muizz Street: Also known as Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street, it’s one of the oldest streets in Cairo, lined with historical mosques, mausoleums, and traditional houses showcasing Islamic architecture
  • Manial Palace and Museum: Once the residence of Prince Mohammed Ali Tewfik, the Manial Palace is a beautifully preserved mansion with lush gardens, art collections, and architectural marvels
Cairo Tower on the Nile, Egypt
Farm house and Tuscan hills

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